How should you act when meeting a new dog? What to Know

Do: Let the dog approach you

When meeting a dog, it’s important to be calm and go slow. Your first instinct may be to run towards the dog with open arms, but not so fast! Approaching a dog in this way may startle them, and it can come off as intimidating. Instead, hold a natural stance, and allow the dog to come to you. You want to avoid coming across as fearful, however, as this can lead the dog to be defensive. Be careful, yet confident, when meeting a dog for the first time.

Do: Let the dog sniff you

Introducing yourself to a new dog is all about understanding the dog’s instincts. Dogs have an extremely keen sense of smell. They use scent to understand, and make decisions about, their environment. In just a few sniffs, a dog can get a feel for the gender, health, and even the history of another dog. When a dog sniffs a person, they can determine whether that person has a dog of their own, where in the neighborhood the person might live, and more. They can also pick up on a person’s unique scent to jog their memory as to whether and when they’ve met before! To let a dog sniff you, don’t extend your hand to their face. Instead, let the dog approach you and sniff your hand on their own terms.

Keep a steady, calm, but friendly tone

Up until now, experts recommend staying pretty quiet during the initial meeting. Though, it may be okay to encourage the dog over when you squat down. So much of this is about reading the dog’s cues! When you do speak to the dog, you want to be friendly but calm and speak in a normal or even low voice.

Excited, squeaky voices that many use with dogs (guilty!) is not the best voice for a first meeting. It can be interpreted as unpredictable and put some dogs on edge.

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